Restoring Shine to the briar

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Starting to Get Obsessed
Oct 13, 2015
127
698
Michigan
I have a few smooth briar pipes that used to have a clean shiny surface, and now are quite dull looking. I know some people would probably refer to that as "character", but I like looking at vivid grain and surface finish . Does anyone have a reliable method for bringing back the luster?

Any insight appreciated, thanks. If there is a prior thread link, that would be good, too.
 
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JOHN72

Lifer
Sep 12, 2020
3,893
39,267
49
SPAIN
I use cooking vinegar. It gives me good results. For cleaning, I give it a drop of almond oil or beeswax afterwards. I really don't know in the future if this will damage my pipes. The result is satisfactory. The subject of the apple cider vinegar for food use, was because of a conversation with my wife, she cleans with vinegar. Also the beeswax gives a very good final result. That is what I use. There are real masters here, I'm sure they will help you to leave your pipe in perfect condition.
 
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sablebrush52

The Bard Of Barlings
Jun 15, 2013
16,367
30,329
SoCal
jrs457.wixsite.com
There are a number of ways to restore a lustrous shine to your pipes. Carnuba wax,applied with a buffer is one. There are also microcrystalline carnuba waxes that can be applied without a buffer that will also produce a brilliant luster. The two I use are Paragon and Halcyon waxes, and are available from PIpes International or on eBay.

If your pipe has acquired a coating of grime due to smoking, removing that will improve the visibility of the grain figure. Cleaning the outside surface of the bowl can be done in a number of ways, including a careful application of Murphy's Oil soap, or just a rag and spit, which is what I do.
 

avail

Starting to Get Obsessed
Oct 13, 2015
127
698
Michigan
Thanks for the comments. There was a guy I found on Etsy who would clean and polish a pipe for 20 bucks. I did that a few times early on, but should probably get my act together.
 
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Dec 3, 2021
1,938
14,558
Pennsylvania & New York
I often use La Belle Epoque's Before & After Restoration Balm, followed by the aforementioned Paragon and Halcyon waxes. The balm is great for getting grime off the briar and the grain comes alive with its application—I do wonder if the wood appears darker than the original state, or if it's just the contrast is popping because the finish was dull. I can't imagine it's altering things that quickly, but, I thought I'd mention it.
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
1,407
2,907
Humansville Missouri
I have a few smooth briar pipes that used to have a clean shiny surface, and now are quite dull looking. I know some people would probably refer to that as "character", but I like looking at vivid grain and surface finish . Does anyone have a reliable method for bringing back the luster?

Any insight appreciated, thanks. If there is a prior thread link, that would be good, too.
Grapeseed oil is the best and cheapest I’ve found, thanks to this forum.


Before that I used the best grade of olive oil for many decades.

If your pipe has a hard polyethylene finish then it’s like your car, and the finish is impenetrable.

But all other briar with varnish or shellac removed will glow like a full moon at midnight if you use grapeseed oil.

To shine them temporarily use beeswax and buff with a cloth.

But I own about a hundred Lees that glow like this one, using a drop or two of grape-seed oil on a paper towel and buffed with a cloth.

D2F80331-22A1-456D-BF07-1D769774493B.jpeg
 

AJL67

Lifer
May 26, 2022
1,847
9,994
Florida - Space Coast
Thanks for the comments. There was a guy I found on Etsy who would clean and polish a pipe for 20 bucks. I did that a few times early on, but should probably get my act together.
I’ll do it for 19.00 you pay for shipping both ways.

no but seriously get paragon wax for less than $20 and it will last years and so easy to apply even i can do it.
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
1,407
2,907
Humansville Missouri
The best grade of white, filtered pure beeswax costs $8 for a lifetime supply


Why beeswax?

It tastes sweet as honey.

It’s dirt cheap.

All waxes wear off anyway.

A wax is on the briar (or saddle or walnut stock) and grapeseed oil (or neatsfoot oil or boiled linseed oil) penetrates into the briar (or leather or walnut).

The briar in this Lee Two Star died before I was born in 1958, and grapeseed oil keeps it looking nourished and alive.

88B388B1-FDD4-4634-82A8-2E68BA873E79.jpeg
 
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avail

Starting to Get Obsessed
Oct 13, 2015
127
698
Michigan
Grapeseed oil is the best and cheapest I’ve found, thanks to this forum.


Before that I used the best grade of olive oil for many decades.

If your pipe has a hard polyethylene finish then it’s like your car, and the finish is impenetrable.

But all other briar with varnish or shellac removed will glow like a full moon at midnight if you use grapeseed oil.

To shine them temporarily use beeswax and buff with a cloth.

But I own about a hundred Lees that glow like this one, using a drop or two of grape-seed oil on a paper towel and buffed with a cloth.

View attachment 161719
The grain on this one is pretty nice...
 
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Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
1,407
2,907
Humansville Missouri
The grain on this one is pretty nice...
Here are two more examples of grapeseed on 80 plus year old pipes in constant, hard service.

9C643DEE-6286-45FA-942B-3A25DF40F19E.jpegPostwar 4 hole Stinger Kaywoodie Flame Grain #13

EB347DB1-B322-47F6-9152-C65036D68235.jpegPrewar Kaywoodie Flame Grain #13

Of every factory pipe ever made the last one had the undisputed most selected briar of any. Kaywoodie used X-Ray machines to select the plateaux briar used to make 1937 Flame Grains.

A White Spot today made from equal quality briar (if there is any) would sell for a thousand dollars.

Why, I can’t explain, but grapeseed oil beats extra virgin olive oil to make briar glow, not shine.

To shine one, I recommend beeswax.
 
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cigrmaster

Lifer
May 26, 2012
19,724
52,775
64
Sarasota Florida
Maybe once every 5 years I will pull out my Dunhill polishing cloths and shine my pipes. It is something I honestly have no interest in and I have to be bored to shit to even think about doing it. My pipes are meant to smoke, not to look pretty like they have never been smoked.

Years ago I had mostly smooth pipes and I was a freak at keeping them shiny. Now almost every pipe I own is sandblasted, I own one smooth I think a Scott Thile Bulldog and I can't remember ever using the cloth on it.
 
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avail

Starting to Get Obsessed
Oct 13, 2015
127
698
Michigan
Maybe once every 5 years I will pull out my Dunhill polishing cloths and shine my pipes. It is something I honestly have no interest in and I have to be bored to shit to even think about doing it. My pipes are meant to smoke, not to look pretty like they have never been smoked.

Years ago I had mostly smooth pipes and I was a freak at keeping them shiny. Now almost every pipe I own is sandblasted, I own one smooth I think a Scott Thile Bulldog and I can't remember ever using the cloth on it.
Very good, but I'm still in the "shine phase"... ;)
 
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Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
1,407
2,907
Humansville Missouri
Maybe once every 5 years I will pull out my Dunhill polishing cloths and shine my pipes. It is something I honestly have no interest in and I have to be bored to shit to even think about doing it. My pipes are meant to smoke, not to look pretty like they have never been smoked.

Years ago I had mostly smooth pipes and I was a freak at keeping them shiny. Now almost every pipe I own is sandblasted, I own one smooth I think a Scott Thile Bulldog and I can't remember ever using the cloth on it.
The finest gun stocks on earth have a modified linseed oil finish.

The best western stock saddles invariably had a neatsfoot oil finish.

I used olive oil on all briar until on this forum I discovered grapeseed oil is better, and doesn’t darken briar as much.

Fine walnut, top grain Heerman oak leather, and old aged and cured Mediterranean briar are all three dead and lifeless without some kind of added oils. Those oils penetrate just below the surface.

The finish on the finest sandblasted briar is just a dark, deep oil based stain, if any stain is used.

C432A388-AD5D-4114-92A3-7924DF197339.jpeg
35ADEC45-2EF1-47C9-B2FA-32A68C74C06A.jpeg

A little grapeseed oil keeps my highest dollar half blast pipe looking new.
 
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didimauw

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 28, 2013
6,741
14,856
33
Burlington WI
Grapeseed oil is the best and cheapest I’ve found, thanks to this forum.


Before that I used the best grade of olive oil for many decades.

If your pipe has a hard polyethylene finish then it’s like your car, and the finish is impenetrable.

But all other briar with varnish or shellac removed will glow like a full moon at midnight if you use grapeseed oil.

To shine them temporarily use beeswax and buff with a cloth.

But I own about a hundred Lees that glow like this one, using a drop or two of grape-seed oil on a paper towel and buffed with a cloth.

View attachment 161719
I actually prefer the look of this pipe compared to shiny wax covered ones.